A REUNION? COMING SOON!


Occasionally we hear from old fans, who invariably ask:  Wouldn't a re-union of Mel, Mel & Julian be wonderful?

A REUNION IS "IN THE WORKS"!
The band is planning to re-unite in South Africa in 2018 for a few dates in the Johannesburg area... Where? When? To be arranged soon, so please watch this space for details!

We are pleased to announce our booking agent: Please contact Rael Birns at Rael@raelbirns.co.za or 082 452-1100

 

Mel, Mel & Julian from an interview in a Durban newspaper, drawn by Jock Leyden, who got it right!

 

   Mel Miller continues his stellar career as Grandfather of South African comedy at shows around South Africa.
   Julian Laxton continues to make his own great music, plus sessions, sound-tracks, commercials around South Africa.  
   Mel Green is a professional Graphic Designer and Illustrator by day, is a songwriter and sings solo around Boston, USA...
   So, please watch this space and your local media for news of future shows!

Once upon a time in the 60s...

How Mel & Mel met: where they performed; when Julian joined the band; who they met along the way; their influences and the key people in their brief, but sweet career ... and what they're up to today. Enjoy!

Links in the M,M&J Chain...

Influences & Earworms...

Two young guys singing in an art school classroom at lunch hour to appreciative listeners, and the realization that they had something special.

Key people and places in their career:

The Troubadour Coffee/Steakhouse in Johannesburg, THE folk club where it was happening!

Gary Bryden, Brit folkie, who got Little Mel up on stage at the Troub in the first place.

Keith Blundell, who auditioned Mel & Mel and who without hesitation offered them a weekly gig at the Johannesburg Troubadour..

Des Lindberg who kept them on at the Troubadour as headliners, when they weren't playing full-time at their long hotel residencies.

Ben Segal, quiet folk fanatic and founder of SAFMA, the South African Folk Music Association, and 3rd Ear Music, who opened his vast collection of music and his hospitality to the guys. 

Johnny Kongos, friend and a hit-making rock & roller, who encouraged them & introduced them to...

John E. Sharpe, a wonderful bluesman, who was managed by...

Billy Forrest, South Africa's greatest C&W singer and mentor to many young musicians, who became their manager, friend and guiding light.

Brenda Newfield, a wonderful folksinger, who gave Mel  & Mel some of their first gigs, and who opened up her home & her record collection to them, thus helping them expand their repertoire. 

David Sapire, a photographer and a fan who also helped with their repertoire, and who most significantly... introduced Mel and Mel  to his brother Julian!

Mike Dorsey, entrepreneur & club owner on the Durban music scene, became a fan, a mentor and helped the band in many ways.

Their influences. They  listened to everything possible, at parties, record shops, friend's living rooms, records and reel-to-reel tapes... absorbing everything that appealed to their evolving musical tastes and their developing musical skills. 

See the BLOG PAGE which has a list of recording artists and songs which first caught their ear(s) and whose styles and genres were adapted to suit their style, carrying on the "the folk-process" down in South Africa.

 

Historic Reference

In 1994 Mel, Mel & Julian were acknowledged and included in the book, "History of Contemporary Music in South Africa"...taking their place as one of few notable folk groups to make an impression on the evolving contemporary music scene.

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What kind of a title is "Ethnic/Shmethnic" you might ask yourself? Well, perhaps it is an irreverent one, but in this case perhaps an explanation is in order... you see, there was a time when folk music purists (even those in South Africa) during the great folk scare of the 60s, who insisted that folk songs should be performed faithfully, exactly the way they were "found", or as published in the folk music bibles such as "Child's Ballads". Or as originally heard, or recorded in the field by puckah ethno -folk-musicologists, on their field trips into the rural areas and backwoods of the United States, Great Britain, or other locales.
 

Deviations from the true-to-the-source presentations of these songs were never tolerated by folk fanatics. Even to this day you will find various folkie types standing up on a stage with beer glass in one hand and the other cupped around one ear so as to better intonate, or perhaps give the impression that the singer is being true to the ethnic source of the song he or she is presenting.
 

Thus the term "ethnic" was often used to refer to a truly rendered form of music. And then the question is sometimes posed – "if a song is copied by someone other than the "true" originator or follower, or by someone other than from that particular culture, then how can that presentation be traditional?

 

Seeking to ignore that and disprove that rather precious rationale, the members of the group Mel, Mel and Julian felt free to interpret their material in their own special way, and that is how the title "Ethnic/Shmethnic" came about ! They chose from the songs they performed during their "show" and which they recorded at the Gallo recording studios on their first outing for Columbia, South Africa in 1965...  
 

They drew from songs dating back to the 17th Century up until the 20th Century.

The melodies and words are essentially identical to the traditional versions, but the vocal and instrumental presentations have been arranged so that they are presented in the fresh and special style that was peculiar and special to Mel, Mel & Julian... and which set them apart from their colleagues in the very vibrant folk scene which began at the Cul De Sac Coffeehouse in Hillbrow as early as the late 50s, and which sprang to life in 1963 at The Troubadour Steak- and Coffeehouse and at other clubs which sprang up all over South Africa continuing into the 70s, when the scene morphed in Folk-Rock, and other variations of Rock.
 

  The LP "Ethnic/Shmethnic" by Mel, Mel & Julian set the bar for folk music that came after it's appearance, and folk groups and recordings soon  featured lead guitar, and other instruments as well... there was the common accusation that the resulting music was "commercial", and many were hard put to explain themselves and their choices, but eventually the truly good music stood out on it's own merits, as did their performers.